Wednesday, 29 March 2017

The story behind the Sunshines

Back in November I did my very first live Sunshine portrait pop-up at the Handmade Nottingham Winter Market. It was both exciting and terrifying but I loved it - so much so that I did a second pop up at their Spring Market last weekend!

Whilst I was doodling lovely customers at the Winter Market someone asked me "When did you start doing these?" My first response was, "This is my first time!" but that was quickly followed by me explaining that the 'live' part was my first time and that the watercolour process is fairly new, then a lot more waffle about how I've been drawing forever and have done portrait commissions since the beginning of Hello Sunshine. I fear I may have just spewed a load of nonsense over that poor, lovely customer but it made me think a lot about how my Sunshines started and I have wanted to write a blog post about ever since.


After the Winter Fair a lot happened though; Christmas, engagement excitement, new yearness, holidays, launching new products, and well... LIFE! The idea for this post has remained on my to do list since November though and I think it's important for me to remember how far I've come with this part of my business, after all, I realised when I looked back that I have been drawing my Sunshine portraits in the same style for TEN YEARS now!


I can't quite believe it, ten whole years, crikey! That's a pretty long time, right? I came to thinking that I should be proud of that too. My style has developed along the way but looking back, my portraits have always kept to the same simple, no facial feature style and people have continued to commission them from me, something I am constantly grateful for!


BUT... WHERE DID IT ALL START?

I can't tell you exactly where I was when I drew what would become my very first Sunshine but I can tell you I wasn't at home. I was on my travels after uni and feeling very homesick, I had brought a notebook and pencils/pens with me and started to draw to distract myself during a storm. After a few mindless scribbles I started to draw friends and family from back home but kept getting frustrated because as soon as I added a nose or mouth to faces they looked rubbish! However, I soon realised that I didn't actually need to add those features in to make them resemble my loved ones - I can't tell you how I did it, (I still can't tell you how I do it) but somehow, with just two black dots as eyes, it worked!


When I returned from my travels I scanned in and neatened up all of my scruffy drawings and gave them all to my friends as presents. I thought nothing of it at the time because I'd missed everyone so much and at the end of the day I was just giving them some heartfelt scribbles.


Over time though people started asking me to draw their significant others and I also started to draw and gift portraits as wedding presents to my friends. When I launched Hello Sunshine I was getting enough requests for portraits that it made me realise I could offer them as a part of my business (alongside the jewellery). Even though illustration wasn't the primary focus of Hello Sunshine to start with, I steadily built up a portfolio of work which didn't just include my friends and family.


Even today I'm still surprised and delighted by people I have never met before asking me to draw them, their loved ones and their pets. It's one of the best feelings in the world! Realising that my portraits, something with such a personal beginning, appeal to other people enough to make it part of my business is incredible! It's also my most favourite part of Hello Sunshine... but shhhh! Don't tell the jewellery.


WHY ARE THEY CALLED SUNSHINES?

I never really liked the word 'caricature' and although I referred to them as caricatures for a long while, it never felt right. I would call them 'Hello Sunshine doodles' but that always seemed a bit long winded so it often became 'Sunshine doodles' and after a while I referred to them as just 'Sunshines'.

Maybe it was out of laziness, maybe it was just something I'd always had in my head but never put my finger on it, either way I LOVE that they are called Sunshines now. The fact other people call them Sunshines now too not only makes me happy (the word Sunshine is such a cheerful word anyway) but it also banishes everything terrible I associate with the word caricature - no enlarged noses, sticky out ears or gigantic teeth! And that translates quite LITERALLY too because my portrait style is so simple.



HOW ARE THEY CREATED?

As my Sunshines started life as doodles of friends in a tattered notebook, I had to scan them in to then be able to print and pass them on as gifts. At the time I didn't have a clue how Photoshop or Illustrator really worked, I'd learnt a bit at Uni but basically had to teach myself. So I would scan in each sketch to keep a copy, then outline my sketch in pen, re-scan and spend hours in Photoshop trying to figure out how to neaten it all up and add some colour.


The results were... sketchy! It worked but I was never really happy with them until I learnt more about Illustrator and a good friend of mine (April Towriess) showed me how to create vectors of my line drawings. From then on my sunshines started to look neater and I was much happier with how I could colour them in layers.


For digital commissions the process is much the same today, thankfully I can use Photoshop and Illustrator much more competently now but I still learn something new each time I create a portrait which I LOVE about it all. I thought it might be useful to share the process, not only to share it with you guys but to also remind myself how much goes in to each Sunshine portrait because I often forget.

It's not a perfect process and there are elements I intend to work on (the recent addition of my iPad Pro & Pencil will certainly help!) but from start to finish here is what generally goes in to every digital Sunshine commission I create:

ORDERING / ADMIN
First up I get to chat to lovely customers! Orders are placed or emails and quotes are arranged, then lots of photos and information about who and what I need to draw are sent over and discussed.

SKETCHING
I get my sketchbook, pencils (and a brew) ready and start drawing - my favourite bit! Drawing from photos can often be quite hard so I like to ask for a lot to look at whilst sketching and knowing a few things about the kind of person I'm drawing can also help A LOT. It means I can capture more of their personality in the way they're standing/sitting or in the clothes they are wearing and even in the objects that surround them.


SCANNING & PHOTOSHOPPING
Once the sketch is complete I scan it all in. Depending on what's in the Sunshine, depends on how many pages I have to scan. I often draw backgrounds on one page, objects for hobbies and interests on another and the lovely people or pets on another page. When they're all scanned in I use photoshop to edit, tidy and layer them together.

A BIT MORE ADMIN & AMENDS
The completed sketch is emailed over and I request specific feedback for any amends that may need to be made. After a round of amends and a couple of emails, the sketch is approved and it's ready for the digitalisation!

PEN, INK & MORE SCANNING
I print off the sketch in its finished form and outline the whole thing in my favourite ink pen. It's then scanned back in and tidied up again in Photoshop to leave a crisp black and white line drawing. I then open the pen version in Illustrator and trace around the outlines to create a super smooth, black and white vector.


COLOURING
Working back from photographs and emails I add colour, pattern and texture to the Sunshine. This is the bit where I often learn something new, whether it's creating a new pattern, learning about a new tool or just working out how to make grass look like grass with a simple texture.

MORE ADMIN & AMENDS
As with the sketch, the colour version is then sent to the customer for review and any colour changes are made at this stage. After a couple more emails the final Sunshine is signed off. YAY!


FINAL FILE & PRINT
Once everyone is happy, the final digital file is prepared and a high resolution jpg is sent on to the customer. An A4 print of the digital illustration is also printed, packed and posted ready to be framed or gifted to the happy recipient.

VOILA! That is how I create my digital Sunshine portraits.


I will point out again that I know this is a long winded process and one that can be sped up with new tools/software (especially if I didn't use a track pad to do everything!!!) BUT it's a process I love and feel more connected to. If I just created everything on my iPad I'd miss the pencil to paper part, I'd miss the satisfaction of going over something in pen when it's all agreed. OK, I wouldn't miss the scanner tantrums and bodge ups but it's all part of the process and what makes each Sunshine special - to me and the customer.


WHY ARE LIVE SUNSHINE PORTRAITS DIFFERENT?

As you can imagine, being able to offer everything above at an event just isn't possible but a couple of years ago when Rhea, who runs Handmade Nottingham, asked me if I could somehow speed my portraits up and offer sketches it got me thinking. Actually, that's a lie, it scared me and I didn't think anyone would pay for just a sketch so I kinda shied away from it, until I started the INKtober challenge last October. I started playing with ink pens and watercolours, something I hadn't used for yonks but I loved it and mentioned to Rhea that I might have found a way to produce super quick portraits - if I practiced!


So... I practiced and timed myself and practiced a bit more! Eventually I felt happy that I could offer 10 minute watercolour portraits if I just did head and shoulder shots and used ink pens and watercolour paints. Rhea was happy to give it a shot and booked me to do Pop Up Sunshine Portraits at the Handmade Nottingham Winter Fair in November 2016. The rest, as they say, is history! It went really well and as I mentioned at the start of this post I have conquered the initial fear and can now say that I LOVE IT and can't wait to do more events this year!



Hopefully that explains where the live Sunshines have come from recently and why they have to be different. I mean they are totally the same style but it's a completely new process, a process that allows a quicker, more affordable and unique experience and piece of original artwork for people at events... and a process I'm falling in love with!


WHAT ABOUT WATERCOLOUR SUNSHINE COMMISSIONS?

At the moment I only offer watercolour style portraits at events or do personal ones as I keep practicing. I absolutely LOVE creating them in this format but it's not possible to offer commissions over email with the same service/cost as I do at events.


If you look back at the digital process you'll see that there's a helluvalot lot of admin time, a lot of this would work out the same with watercolour Sunshines if they were done over email. After initial emails, photo organising and agreeing what would be drawn, plus costs for P&P, then adding in studio time and actually getting to the post office, it would take so much longer. Compare this to being set up at an event and spending ten minutes drawing a lovely customer exactly as he/she is in front me and then letting them walk away with the finished portrait ten minutes later - I'm hoping you can see the difference.


I would REALLY like to work out a way I can offer watercolour portraits over email and through online shops though. I just need to figure out how, set some rules/guidelines and work out a fair price for everyone. If you have any suggestions or advice I'd love to hear your thoughts!

It's not often I talk in detail about my portraits, the processes I use or... well... we all know how little I blog in general! So it's been good to spend some time writing this down and I hope you've found the read interesting as well as insightful and dare I say it... enjoyable?!


Thank you so much for getting this far and I hope you have a nice brew to reward yourself with after the epic read! I'm off to rest my fingers and pop t'kettle on... all this typing makes me thirsty.

HAPPY HUMPDAY LOVELIES!

☀︎

Monday, 13 March 2017

Smashing camera shyness in Cambridge.

If any of you know me or follow my social media adventures, you may or may not have noticed that you won't often find a full, face on, headshot of me ANYWHERE! I know lots of people dislike having their photo taken and I'm no exception but when you run a small business and get the opportunity to take part in blog interviews, Instagram challenges, and even magazine features it quickly becomes apparent that people need/want/like to see the face behind it all.

So far, I think I've found a way around this by using shots of me at craft fairs or events but I'm usually behind a stall, pulling a silly face, throwing shapes or just a bit too far off to make out more than a cheesy grin - which all works fine by me but isn't necessarily good enough as a headshot that lovely magazine owner may be asking for.


When Lucy, (all round lovely, local Cambridge creative and owner of Lucinda Price photography), approached Claire and I about doing a headshot style photoshoot together I was a tad nervous about saying yes. However, I bloody love Claire and Lucy so the idea of being able to help Lucy out and spend the day wandering around Cambridge with them was too fun to miss out on so I ignored the 'I-hate-my-face' gremlins and jumped in!

The idea was to capture some individual head shots (professional but fun) as well as some snaps as besties (super duper fun) whilst exploring Cambridge via the walk Lucy usually takes her clients on. It was pretty tough pretending to be besties with Claire, I mean, it's not like we spend every day talking or love hanging out, eating pizza and chatting about cats all the time! So we had to  work hard to make it look genuine... obviously this is a silly joke as I LOVE Claire to pieces and like I said before, it was a lovely excuse to hang out.


Together, with our bikes we explored the famous sights and back streets of Cambridge, from Senate House and Kings College to Portugal Place and Midsummer Common. Stopping for relaxed photos, cheesy grins and action bike shots (with some silly boomerangs too) we had the nicest time and after the first few awkward snaps of my face I began to relax and almost forget there was a camera there!



Lucy made us feel so calm and comfortable, combined with stunning views of my new(ish) hometown and giggles a plenty, I spent the perfect afternoon in front of a camera. Say what?!? I never thought I'd say that, but it just goes to show you how good a photographer and how lovely a person Lucy is! Doing something like this with a bestie is honestly, the perfect way to overcome camera shyness, get some photos of you together (rather than those filtered iPhone selfies we're all so pro at) AND also get some damn good quality head shots to use for your business!


You'll have seen some of my absolute faves from the afternoon pop up on my social media accounts already (Instagram & Facebook especially) but I wanted to write about the day here because it was fun, it was SO valuable and I'm just over the moon with the outcome of doing something I would normally avoid.


If you need any more convincing about the fun of it all, you can have a read of Claire's lovely blog post over at claireabellemakes.com AND if you're interested in working with Lucy yourself she is running a promotion right now, YAY! So you can get 25% off a session with the code SUNSHINE17, DOUBLE YAY!

I hope this post is valuable to you if you feel uncomfortable in front of camera but also need head shots - for business or pleasure. I wanted to tell you that's it's not all scary or cringeworthy if you find the perfect photographer and can make a fun day of it with your mates. The fact that Lucy offers this as a service and has experience with fellow small business owners, makes it the perfect solution if you ask me.


Pop over to Lucy's shiny new site at Lucinda Price Photography to see her lovely portfolio and check out the services she offers. Oh and don't forget Lucy's offer (save 25% with code SUNSHINE17) if you want to save some pennies. If you have any questions or comments about the day please feel free to get in touch - my peanut butter jumper was from RAD - most frequently asked Q so far!

HAPPY MONDAY & HAPPY SNAPPING!

☀︎

Monday, 27 February 2017

A year to make and break habits?

Following on with my 'late to the new year' theme going on so far, I thought I'd carry on with my writing roll (while it lasts) and share a little post about the year ahoy for me personally - a more business focussed post will come later. In the past I've called stuff like this resolutions, goals, mini missions etc and have always been quite specific about things I want to achieve or aim for but this year I want to try something a bit different.

I tend to freak out when I put a lot of pressure on myself to do things so this year I'm trying to put a different spin on it all. This year I'm going to lay out a little personal tick list for myself (because I bloody love a good list) and in the same way I enjoy ticking off little daily tasks I'm hoping I will enjoy trying to tick things off this one too. 2017 is the year I'd like to create myself some new habits... and in the process actually break some naughty ones... maybe!

less and more list of mini objectives to consider
image : Pinterest link

So here is my little list for you to see (and feel free to hold me accountable for these at any point in the year!) Some might seem a bit predictable or a bit silly but for me, I know they will make a difference - even if I just try, let alone if I actually keep them up!


D R I N K  M O R E  W A T E R
Swap water for tea and I'd already win at this hands down but my skin and energy levels suffer when I don't drink the clear stuff enough. I know this and need to get in to the habit of filling my water bottle several times a day to sip on (I'd say glass but they always end up with a cat in them!).

Cat glass, full of water, with a cat in the glass!

It might actually help reduce the amount of caffeine I must consume too, which has to be a good thing. Oh and while we're reducing things let's throw in drinking less booze too as it's become far too easy to relax with a glass of vino in the evenings and this is not a habit I need to stick to.


W I W T  D O O D L E S
I used to do these regularly a few years ago (and even had one published in a book - I wrote about the excitement of it here).  I loved doing them, for no other reason than a bit of me time, a bit of fun doodling and just to capture a little snapshot of the month. For one reason or another, mainly time, I stopped drawing these back in 2013.

However! 2017 is going to see them return, in a slightly different style and one that will help me keep up with them each month too! YAY! I shared a peek at the end of January when I started them again and here it is again...

Cartoon style illustration of Jo Want, Hello Sunshine

...February has just been finished, and before the end of the month tomorrow (wtf! where did that month go?!?) I'll be adding it to the shiny new What I Wore Today 2017 album over on the Facebook Page too. They make me happy for many reasons so here's to more happy-jo-time each month!



W E D D I N G  P L A N N I N G  T I M E
I think this may be a pretty handy joint plan we've decided on this year, mainly to help keep things moving and so I don't get too overwhelmed with everything. So once a week Will and I are going to make sure we talk big day schiz, I mean otherwise we won't do it and I'll just keep putting things off and we'll never pick a date! Plus it's a nice excuse to have a bit of a date night once a week too.

Jo & Will Marmite jar


B E D  T I M E  R E A D I N G  
I'm sure I'm not the only one guilty of staring at their phone before getting in to bed, even if it's just a cheeky check on Instagram to reply to some comments or catch up on pretty snaps. It affects how quickly I fall to sleep and can heavily influence the craziness of my dreams sometimes too! Last year I tried to read a bit before bed each night (it only lasted a few weeks), granted it was mainly comic books but it really made a difference to how calm I felt before bed as I often feel anxious at night.

Black cats and comic books

So this year I'm trying my best to do it even more, every night would be ideal but there are some evenings I just can't keep my peepers open - even for phone peeking let alone reading!


G E T  O U T D O O R S
I mentioned this is my little review of 2016 and it's a super important habit to keep up... I will take my ass outside at least once a day! I realise this sounds crazy because I guess lots of people have to get up and out for work, school runs, dog walks etc. Don't get me wrong, generally I'm pretty active when it comes to getting out and about - I go a bit crazy if I don't and with all the little adventures we plan it probably looks like we're always outdoors!

snapshot from a bike ride last summer to a yellow field in Horningsea village

However when the busy times of year take over or I feel a bit lost in my little black rain cloud days I can often find myself working through the day and late into the evening having not left the house. Not this year though, even if it's just a walk to the post box I will be outside every damn day!


C L I M B I N G 
Will is a big climber, he used to go a helluvalot more before he moved to the flat lands of Cambridgeshire, and as limited as the climbing around here is he still used to go a lot before he met me. So, another joint plan for the year... when we have a weekend that we're both at home without full on plans (rarely happens but there's hope!) we have agreed to spend a morning climbing together at Milton Keynes.

La Sportiva Jeckyl climbing shoe - all the gear no idea!

It's a bit of a drive but we did it this weekend and made the most of the time in Bedfordshire by having a picnic lunch at Sharpenhoe Clappers afterwards... there's also an Ikea mighty close by too!


For me, it's so I can improve my confidence as currently I daren't go climbing through fear of everyone laughing at me and for Will, it's so he can get more out of something he loves - climbing and me! haha!


D R I V I N G
After nearly 6 months Enid and I are friends! (Enid is the VW Golf who replaced our Smart Car last Summer). I realise this might sound bonkers but I don't drive often at all and since moving to Cambridge I only drove Smarty Smart a few times and that was basically just a big go-kart! So when Will bought Enid I was a bit nervous about driving her as she seemed much bigger. As time went on I managed to freak myself out more and more about driving her to the point I just didn't - I mean I barely need to drive here anyway so that didn't help!


Aaaanyway... last week I smashed my stupid insecurities and fears by driving down the A14 to Tesco AND on Saturday night I drove us all the way back from Nottingham. WOO! So here's to getting in the habit of driving more and getting my confidence back - after all I will want to drive my dream Campervan when they day comes!


F L O S S I N G
...because it shouldn't be this hard to do it daily! I feel very lucky in that the dentist often compliments my teeth and how healthy my mouth is but I ALWAYS get told off for not flossing, especially when I moan about the tea stains that build up between my teeth because... yup, you guessed it... because I don't floss.

Take care of your teeth and floss

So...floss harps at the ready, I will get into the habit, even if it's just a couple of times a week! Oh and yes, floss harps are a must for me because embarrassing as it is, I always get in a mess with that bloomin' floss string you pull from a box!

So there you have it a few of the habits I'd like to pick up over the year... feels good to write them all down and hopefully I'll feel even better if I manage to keep them up.

Have you set yourself any goals, habits, new years resolutions? Or do you have any new routine goals maybe? Either way I'd love to know if you'd like to share in the comments below and Good Luck with what you may have set yourself... I'm off to floss now!

☀︎

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Hello 2017... sorry I'm late!

It may be a little late now but... HAPPY NEW YEAR! Did you miss me? Nahhhh I'm sure you've all had plenty going on to miss the odd bit of blogging I do, right? heehee

So, how has 2017 treated you so far?

I don't know if it's the colder weather, S.A.D, world affairs or just a general feeling of bleurgh over January but I've been struggling to find the 'umph' to write this year (and it's not like I've ever had lots of umph to write!) Usually, by now at least, I would have done a few hello and mini update posts to kick off the new year and towards the end of January I would have done my refection post on the previous year and a little bit of goal setting. As you can see from the lack of posts though, none of that has happened this year! OOPS!

BUT I do enjoy writing when I get in to the swing of it and I think it's important (even if nobody reads this) for me to review 2016, reflect on the good, the bad, the ugly and ponder those goals I set myself.

"Are you pondering what I'm pondering Pinky?"

No, I don't want to take over the world (I'm more in the "NARF!" camp), so don't panic, but I would like to take a bit of time to look at the things I told myself I would focus on for 2016 and think about what I got out of it all. So let's start from the top and look back at the little list I laid out at the end of my 'A little time to reflect' post last January....


W O R K   G O A L S  :  H E L L O  S U N S H I N E


T R A D E  S H O W
I started 2016 being excited and full of ideas for my first trade show and as April came around I was so proud and pleased with all the planning and work we had done (we being me and my sunshine team, who I wrote about last May).

Hello Sunshine listing in BCTF directory

With a brand new website, new wholesale catalogue and shiny new set of product and lifestyle photography, not to mention all the new jewellery designs, display items and printed materials I had organised, I was all set. I was absolutely thrilled once my stand was set up and received a lot of lovely comments, feedback and interest over the three days I was there, I also met many new faces and had the chance to catch up with a couple of creative friends who were also exhibiting there.

Display of Hello Sunshine acrylic laser cut jewellery

Now, don't get me wrong, the experience of being there, what I learnt as a trader and the stockists I've gained since has made it worth while in the end but there are a couple of reasons that I am still undecided about whether to return this year.

The main reason, and I have to be blunt here is the money. I spent A LOT to take part in and prepare for the trade show, as I'm sure a lot of businesses do for these events, but sadly I didn't get enough interest or orders from the weekend or following that to make it worth while. It was a huge hit to my business and made the rest of 2016 mega tough, which resulted in a tearful meeting with my accountant and left me wondering if leaving my job at Boots was a good idea only one year on from making a go of 'full time sunshine'.

Birds eye view of laser cut jewellery and yellow notepad

The other doubt in my mind is to whether or not I picked the right event but with it being my first trade show, one of the more budget friendly ones and with it having come highly reccommended to me, I thought it was the best place to start. And you never know until you try, right? I'm a HUGE believer in giving things your all and taking risks to follow your dreams (cheesy but true!) Sometimes it sucks and things don't pay off BUT that's still a good thing because you LEARN and I certainly learnt a LOT!

Please don't take this as me moaning about failing or sulking because I didn't come away rolling in orders, it's not about that, I just want to be honest. This experience certainly hasn't put me off trade shows, I know it takes time to build up relationships and trust as an exhibitor at these events BUT at the same time I just don't have the funds to do it again just yet so it means that I am going to have spend 2017 saving and just visiting other trade shows, to research new options before committing to another one.

Overall, it made me proud to see my work on display in such a different way and I have to say - I learnt so much in terms of pricing and paperwork that has helped me no end with current and new stockists since. The experience has given me a bit more confidence in not only dealing with but also approaching stockists and has helped me understand what I need to focus on in the wholesale world.

Jo stood in front of jewellery stand at BCTF


N E W  J E W E L L E R Y  D E S I G N S
The first half of the year saw the introduction of some shiny, new collections, including...

C H E E S E P L A N T  D A V E

Cheese plant, Monstera laser cut acrylic jewellery

G R A N D A D  H A P P Y ' S  C A N A R I E S

canary aviary themed laser cut wood and acrylic jewellery

L I T T L E  B R O W N  B U N N I E S

Rabbit wood and acrylic laser cut jewellery


..and the second half of the year brought along some fun, limited edition collections such as;

E G G S  and  B A C O N

Laser cut acrylic, hand painted, mis-matched bacon and egg studs

L I T T L E  Y E L L O W  C A R S

VW beetle inspired car, laser cut wood and acrylic jewellery

C H R I ST M A S  C A R S

VW beetle inspired car and christmas tree, laser cut wood and acrylic jewellery


I was thrilled by everyones reaction to the new collections as they were released (THANK YOU!) but my favourite and possibly most exciting new addition to the Sunshine portfolio has to be...

P R O J E C T  V A N

VW campervan inspired jewellery, laser cut wood and acrylic

VW Campervan, memories from my childhood

In short, Project Van is fuelled by a life long obsession with VW Campervans and started with trips to Attenborough Nature Reserve in my Nanna and Grandad's beaut of a van when I was teeny tiny. I won't waffle on about it too much as I wrote a post last year (Project Van intro) but basically it is my dream to have my own Sunshine VW Campervan and by creating a range of goodies I am hoping to raise funds to make this dream a reality! Big dream huh? I might be a bazillion years old by the time I make enough money but I don't care because the project fills me with so much joy and excitement when I work on it and you guys seem to LOVE the work too, which makes my heart happy!

Colouring in pages for all ages based on illustrations of Campervans by Jo Want


Last but not least by any means, I can't possibly leave out the shiniest, best selling newbies that hit the shops last year... PINS!

H E L L O  S U N S H I N E  P I N G A M E

Black cat and tabby cat enamel pin set by Hello Sunshine

Yup, that's right! I jumped on the enamel pin band wagon as fast as I could when I realised I could turn my designs into the kind of pins I have collected since childhood. Now, along with pins collected from school trips, chocolate bar wrappers, charities and holidays, I have my very own selection of Sunshine pins!

Cheerful Sunflower enamel pin by Hello Sunshine

Sunshine Van enamel pin by Hello Sunshine

Christmas car, Snowflake, Jumper, Festive Van, and Elf enamel pins by Hello Sunshine

Red VW Campervan enamel pin - limited edition

It's been such a great year for pins and there are so many creatives making such amazing shinies that I have also added so many to my personal pin collection! I even had a Christmas Tree full of pins this year!

Cork board full of enamel pins in the shape of a Christmas Tree

I'm excited to see what 2017 brings to the pingame world and can't wait to design, make and collect even more this year!!


B L O G
Oh how ironic! I wanted to use my blog more to talk to you lovely lot this year and although I kept the posts going, I think overall I actually posted less than in 2015 and just look how well 2017 is going so far... OOPS!

Although I posted less overall, a super exciting and all round awesome trip to Blogtacular last Summer certainly helped me to focus my content a bit more and I certainly enjoyed writing some juicier posts throughout the year.

Photo credit : Will Ireland and Mollie Makes.

Below are just a few of my faves if you fancy a read (don't worry they won't take you that long, haha!) :

Hello Sunshine Adventures : Colorado and Utah
My Sunshine Team
Supper clubs, origami, sushi and wetsuits
Popping my Blogtacular cherry


S U N S H I N E S
2016 saw lots of lovely Sunshine commissions including, families, newlyweds, engagements and pets of all kinds! I'm sure I don't need to remind you how much I LOVE drawing, especially when each one is so unique and personal to the customer! Below are just a few of my faves from last year but you can see more in the ever-growing Sunshine albums over on my facebook page too.





As well as my regular digital Sunshine portraits, I had the absolute pleasure (and slightly terrifying experience) of taking my doodling skills back to The Malt Cross for Handmade Nottingham's Winter Market to do LIVE PORTRAITS! Eeep!


I was so scared, not only do I hate people watching me work but the fear or not being good enough with watercolours and ink was enough to keep my hands shaking for most of the day. However, I can honestly say that the kindness of the people sitting for their portraits, the smiles on their faces after they received their portrait and the overall fun of the day was just THE BEST experience ever!





I enjoyed it so much that I've agreed to go back again in the Spring for Handmade Nottingham's next Market and I'm genuinely excited! You may have already seen a few practice portraits popping up on my Instagram and I can't wait to meet new faces and spend the day drawing on the 19th March again.



P E R S O N A L   G O A L S


C A M B R I D G E
When I wrote my post last January, I was still fairly new to Cambridge but was already falling in love with the place. Almost 18 months after moving I am head over heals and have thoroughly enjoyed exploring my new home and all it has to offer, including:

Riverside rambles to and from the post office or in to town. The river became my favourite place to train for my very first Marathon too!


Cycle rides on Pi and Clarice, from quick trips in to town down the river to longer rides with the beard across the flat lands of Cambridgeshire. No hills makes me happy but then again does nothing for actual training... I really struggle up the teeniest of hills on my bike now!



A mighty fun photowalk with the best bunch of local creatives provided the perfect excuse to meet new faces and design a pretty map - which also helped me no end when it came to finding my way around.


Photo credit : Samantha Claridge


You can read a bit more about the fun we had on the Cambridge Creatives photowalk this post and you can see LOADS of everyone's snaps from the day by searching for the #CambridgeCreativesPhotowalk tag on Instragram.

Speaking of people, I have honestly met the NICEST, MOST KIND, CREATIVE & FUN folk since moving here. Namely Claire of Clairebellemakes! Now I'm sure I've mentioned Claire in a few of my blog posts, she invited me to lunch when I first moved here and since then we must have chatted every day. I can honestly say that I can't imagine life here without her now and feel like we've known each other forever! (sorry Claire, I promise not to gush any more!)


I was alway so worried about not being able to meet new people when I moved - working from home and on your lonesome makes it tough, but with the magic of social media I have met a fantastic bunch of lovelies through Claire, the Cambridge Etsy team, the Cambridge Creatives FB group and various other FB & Instgram pods. Social media is social!

I am also super lucky to have three of my primary (one nursery!) school friends in the local area too. We chat regularly and try to get together as often as we can, with busy lives getting in the way it's sometimes tough but it's so nice to have them and almost 30 years of friendship close by too!


.I suppose I can't really leave out another rather LARGE part of my Cambridge discovery and something very close to my heart.... ALL the food here!!






There are SO many amazing places to eat and drink in Cambridge town and I'm sure it's no big secret how much a LOVE my food and how often we take advantage of the many food vans and traders here. One of my favourite personal projects from last year was drawing the vans we visit and the #fattybumbumdrawsvans collection grew quickly...





A D V E N T U R E
I feel super lucky to say there have certainly been a fair few of these! Whether they've been mini adventures around town, visiting new restaurants, local events, weekends away, day trips or full on jollidays - I think it's safe to say 2016 saw A LOT of fun in between the day to day goings on!

I started to try and capture my adventures with Will by creating little Sunshine doodles of us both, it started off well in the first few months:






...but I must confess I still have a few more to catch up on (which I am determined to finish!) but until then here are a couple of cheeky jolliday snaps instead...






We ended 2016 with another adventure over New Years which involved Camping, Glamping, a whole lot of walking, beautiful scenery and even some snow!



Starting the new year waking up in our little cabin too was the perfect way to welcome 2017 and with our new National Trust membership I'm pretty sure the adventures will continue this year too! YAY!


H E A L T H
The mental side of this goal was always going to be a challenge to me, it still is and may be it always will be but you know what, that's OK and for once I feel at ease saying that. Everyone has their demons and everyone deals with them in their own ways.

I might not post about my struggles on here or social media but that's not because I'm trying to hide them. It's because I don't often have the right words and when I do have that little black rain cloud over my head it's scrolling back through my instagram feed, blog posts and everyone's comments that helps bring the sunshine back again. That and a nice cup of tea with loved ones or cuddles with the kitties.


I will always open up and honestly discuss mental health and any anxiety struggles or trouble with anyone though so please, if it's something you'd like to hear about from me more, let me know!

On the physical health side of things I did indeed start running and cycling more and I set myself the MAHOOSIVE challenge of running a full Marathon. The training was hard, it was hot over Summer and I didn't stick to my plan or train nearly enough but once I found a way to control my negative mind gremlins I decided I would do it no matter how long it took me...

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...and on September 25th 2016 I ran, albeit mighty slowly, 26.1 miles in under 6 hours! Granted I haven't done a lot of running since then but my goodness am I proud of myself for actually getting to the starting line and pushing through to the end. Seeing my parents, the beard, my sister and little niece at the finish line was enough to make my heart burst too, it was a truly emotional experience all round!


As well as training for the marathon I also told myself I'd make the most of each day by getting outside. Whether it was a short walk to the post box or a hike up a mountain on one of our adventures, I enjoy being outdoors so much and it really does do wonders for my mind and body!

Rather than set solid goals and force myself into having to do exercise, last year I realised I just need to get out there and do whatever I want to. It doesn't matter if it's a marathon, paddleboarding, hiring a surf board or just a little walk down the river - if it feels good, just do it and have fun.



Ooft! Well there's my big-little round up of what 2016 brought in line with some of the goals I'd set myself but as I'm sure most of you will appreciate - that's not all that 2016 delivered! I mean, I can't possibly go into the detail of everything that I'd like to share with you but I thought the next best thing (which may also be easier on your reading eyes!) would be to share some highlights. So following on from some of the fun things I've already written about, here are 10 more experiences I thought might be worth mentioning...

2016 : TOP TEN HIGHLIGHTS

1. Ice climbing in Ouray, Colorado : (blog post here)




2. Designing Clarence the Corgi for the Royal Yacht Britannia : (blog post here)


3. Rekindling my love of watercolour painting and taking part in INKtober





4. Meeting and working with the brains behind Copper Boom Studio, Jenny Hyde. I have absolutely loved working on lots of projects with Jenny and her team in their beautiful barn location, including creating this exciting range of Gilmore Girls pins, which also appeared on BuzzFeed! YAY!



5. Being featured in one of my FAVOURITE magazines, Caboodle! EEP!

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6. Spending time with my family and friends when they visit me in Cambridge!






7. Meeting the lovely folk who run Cambridge Eagle Labs and learning to use a laser cutter myself!


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8. Being able to support and see my folks start up their very own business. The Workbench Shop is all about providing handcrafted wood solutions for the home and creative community, from custom made gates and shelving solutions around the house to bespoke display items and props for creatives.

I loved helping them with the beginning of their branding journey and I'm so proud, pleased and excited to see where they take the Workbench Shop in 2017!



9. Having the rather surreal experience of seeing my face on a double page spread in a local magazine! Eek! I was honoured to be interviewed by Cambridge Magazine as part of the Handmade Christmas special, both exciting and cringeworthy all at the same time!


10. And because it's the biggest, bestest, most mentalist highlight for me, I've saved it for last... the beard gave me a yellow canary diamond and asked me to BE HIS WIFE! Yup! We got engaged on Christmas day and it was the BIGGEST surprise ever! If you're interested maybe I can write a mini post about how it all happened?!




Aaaaanywho... on that MEGAEXCITINGNEWS I think I'll end my one and only blog post of 2017 so far! I promise it won't be the last time I write but I won't be making you any promises or setting any blogging expectations myself just yet either.

Usually I'd leave you with some thoughts and goals for the year ahead but I'd quite like to mix up the format of these end of year posts and try to keep my blog a bit more fluid and natural. That may mean huge gaps of quietness, or random burst of excitement and information, it may mean there will be the odd essay or just some nice photos now and then but something tells me 2017 is going to bring a lot of exciting times with a wedding to plan and many adventures to be had!


One thing you can be sure of though are regular snaps and posts on both of my Instagram accounts - yellow and more business-shaped updates will continue to fill my Hello Sunshine feed (@Sunshine_Jo), while more random snaps of food, cats and day to day ramblings will appear over my personal account (@jo_want). So make sure you're following if you'd like a regular dose of Sunshine and Jo-shaped randomness!

I hope you've enjoyed the read if you got this far and if you'd like to leave a comment or send me an email please do - I'd love to hear from you and know what you think of these little waffly updates! Until the next time though, I wish you all a happy, healthy, fun-filled year ahoy!

Keep smiling and thank you for being there for me through so much over the years, I still pinch myself regularly that this is my job and I wouldn't be here without YOU guys supporting me. True story.

YOU ARE AMAZING!